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Music Arangetram: Sindhu Donepudi

K. Arvind

Debut Concert: Sindhu Donepudi
Bharathi Vidyashram Graduates its First Carnatic Vocalist 

नाद तनुमनिशं शङ्करं नमामि मे मनसा शिरसा
naada tanumanisham shankaram namaami me manasaa shirasaa
“I bow to Shankara the very embodiment of music with my mind and body”
(from a composition by Thyagaraja Swami) 

Carnatic music enthusiasts in the Greater Boston area were treated to a wonderful music concert by Sindhu Donepudi on Saturday, July 22nd. The well-attended debut concert held at the Nashua North High School auditorium represented the formal stage ascent (“arangetram”) of Sindhu Donepudi, a shishyaa of Guru Smt. Usha Dwarak at Bharathi Vidyashram, the cultural school associated with the Hindu Temple of New Hampshire. This concert, which was also the maiden student debut concert for Bharathi Vidyashram, was made memorable by the excellent instrumental accompaniments provided by Surya Sunderarajan on the violin, young Hariharan Shanmugam on the mridangam, and Dr. Ravi Iyer on the Ghatam.


Sindhu Donepudi, a recent graduate of Bishop Guertin High School, Nashua, NH enthralled her audience at her debut music concert held at the Nashua North High School auditorium on Saturday, July 22nd, with her outstanding talent, seemingly effortless and confident delivery, imaginative improvisation, excellent pronunciation, and a keen sense of shruthi and rhythm. Her debut concert, which could be appreciated by connoisseurs and enjoyed by a lay audience as well, represented the culmination of her hard work and vocal training that she started at the age of 5. Sindhu who had her early training under Guru Smt. Sandhya Sridhar, continued her vocal music studies at Bharathi Vidyashram under Guru Smt. Usha Dwarak, who has shaped her into the fine artist that we saw on stage that day.

The debut concert was a treat for music lovers thanks to the carefully picked selection of songs, the melodious delivery by Sindhu characterized by both bhava and bhakti, and the expert accompaniment provided by acclaimed instrumentalists from the area. The selection of songs covered a spectrum of composers, beautiful ragas, and a variety of genres and languages. Young Hariharan Shanmugam, a brilliant disciple of Guru Sri Gaurish Chandrashekhar, and a Gabelli Presidential Scholar who graduated this year from Xaverian Brothers High School in Westwood, MA, provided skillful and inspired accompaniment on the mridangam. Boston greats Surya Sunderarajan (who trained under Sri P. Dhanapathy and Sri Vittal Ramamurthy) and Dr. Ravi Iyer (who trained under Sri Madurai Shanmugam Pillai and Sri Trichy Raghava Iyer) expertly accompanied the singer on the violin and ghatam.


The concert opened with a rendition of the “Dakshinamurthy Shlokam”, in the style of the revered Carnatic music icon, the late Smt. M.S. Subbulakshmi, most of whose concerts started with this hymn. The opening prayer was followed by the Telugu varnam “Chalamu Seya” in raga valaji. This composition by Sri Lalgudi Jayaraman in praise of Lord Subrahmanya served as a nice warm up for the musicians. This was followed by an excellent rendition of another Telugu song “Vinayaka Ninnu Vinaa” in raga hamsadhwani. This song, in praise of Lord Ganesha, provided an opportunity for Sindhu to try some creative improvisation. The next piece was the popular Sri Mysore Vasudevachar composition in Sanskrit, “Maamavathu Shree Saraswati.” The melodious rendition included alapana improvisation that brought out the beauty of raga hindolam. This was followed by the beautiful “Rama Ninnu Nammina” in raga mohanam, a composition of Sri Thyaagaraaja Swamy, again embellished by raga alapana and brisk kalpana swarams. Sindhu next utilized the ragamalika “Nithya Kalyani”, composed by the renowned 18th century musician Sri Seetarama Aiyer, to display her facility with handling multiple ragas and smoothly transitioning between them. “Mahalakshmi Jaganmatha” by composer Sri Paapanaasam Shivan in raga shankarabharanam provided a good setting for the accompanying percussionists to do their much appreciated thani avarthanams. Sindhu utilized this piece to impress the listeners with her imaginative mano dharma elaborations on alapana, neraval on the line “paarkadal tharum kripaakari”, and kalpana swarams. This was followed by Oothukadu Sri Venkata Kavi’s “Kuzhalosai Ketkudhamma” in raga vasantha. The next song, a thathvam called “Yemi Sethura Lingaa” presented in honor of the late legend Sri Balamuralikrishna, had a distinctly different feel, but the singer transitioned to the folksy genre of this song with ease. The violinist Surya Sunderarajan had to adapt to this song by dropping his bow, and in its place used his fingers to twang the violin like a guitar. The singer effortlessly switched back to bhakti rasa in a conventional style with the next krithi in raga sindhu bhairavi - Sri Purandara Dasa’s “Venkata Chala Nilayam” in praise of Lord Venkateswara. This was followed by a joyful Hindi thillana in raga dhanasri - “Geetha Duniku Thaka” composed by Sri Swathi Thirunal. The concert concluded auspiciously with the traditional mangalam – “pavamana suthudu" in raga sourashtram, and then gliding skillfully into the "Mangalam Kosalendraya" shloka in raga madhyamavathi.

The audience was enthralled with the outstanding performance of Sindhu on her very first concert, as was evident from their comments. As Veeramani Ranganathan, founder of the Hindu Temple of New Hampshire exclaimed, the concert was more like a “full blown Chennai kutcheri, than a debut concert.”  Karthi Chandra who had traveled from New Jersey for the concert concurred that “the scope of her recital went far beyond what one can expect in a debut concert”. Surya Sunderarajan complimented Sindhu for her “good shruti sense” and was particularly appreciative of Sindhu’s rendering of the krithi “Mahalakshmi Jaganmatha” with neravals and kalpana swarams, and “the perfect alignment of each of the swarams in the various ragas in the krithi ‘Nithya Kalyani’”. Veena player Radhika Jampani, who traveled all the way from North Carolina to attend the concert complimented Sindhu on being blessed with a voice with such a broad range, and on her deft handling of “the difficult transition from thodi back to kalyani and from bhairavi to kalyani” in the “Nithya Kalyani” ragamalika. Carnatic music connoisseur Vani Thilagar was all praise for Sindhu for “touchingly bringing out the essence of the ragas”, and added that her “kalpana swarams were delightfully paired with Surya Sunderarajan’s violin, while the mridangam and ghatam provided an enjoyable interlude”

Sindhu Donepudi demonstrated how talent combined with effort and creativity under the loving guidance of a dedicated guru can lead to amazing results. The community looks forward to the blossoming of the awesome potential demonstrated by young Sindhu at her debut stage concert into outstanding accomplishments in her future music career.


Sindhu Donepudi is an alumnus of the music school at Bharathi Vidyashram taught by Guru Usha Dwarak. Bharathi Vidyashram is the cultural school associated with the Hindu Temple of New Hampshire, Nashua, NH. The school offers classes in Carnatic music, languages, and Indian culture. Please contact staff@htnhbv.org for more information on music classes offered by Bharathi Vidyashram.

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